CRAWFORDSVILLE, Ind.-- An Indiana State Police trooper will not face criminal charges in the deadly shooting of a man along a highway in western Indiana.
Police say Trooper Daniel Organ fatally shot Glenn Rightsell, 56, on Dec. 28 after the Linden man failed to follow the trooper's orders and grabbed a handgun on his own waist.
Relatives demanded answers in Rightsell’s killing. His nephew says his uncle always carried a gun on his belt and was working on his daughter’s stalled SUV at the time. The shooting occurred when Organ stopped to investigate a vehicle parked in front of an abandoned SUV along U.S. 231 about 40 miles northwest of Indianapolis.
” I’m in shock. I just cannot believe this. This is something that happens to somebody else you think,” Rightsell's widow Gloria Rightsell said.
On Wednesday, the Montgomery County Prosecutor's Office confirmed no charges would be filed against Organ.
"Any time someone dies as a result of police action, hard questions need to be asked and an appropriate investigation needs to be done. Law enforcement obtained and provided to this office an extensive amount of information about the events surrounding this incident. I reviewed it very carefully, and had two of my deputies review it independently as well. The results of the investigation and legal review indicated that a criminal prosecution was not appropriate in this case because there was insufficient evidence to prove Trooper Organ committed a crime," said Prosecutor Joseph Buser.
Buser says the evidence was not sufficient enough to disprove a claim of self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt.
"Organ was unaware of Rightsell's identity or background as he approached the disabled vehicle," Buser said. "Organ told authorities he saw through a gap underneath the open hood of the vehicle that a man was in the engine compartment and had a holstered pistol on his right hip."
Buser says Organ told authorities he drew his weapon and held it at the side of his leg, pointing downward, as he approached.
Organ then identified himself "loudly" and told Rightsell not to reach for his gun. Rightsell then "made a motion consistent with drawing a gun and placed his hand on the weapon."
That's when Organ fired his weapon.
Buser says Organ "honestly believed a gun was being drawn to shoot him," and that there isn't any evidence that would contradict Organ's account of the incident.
There was no video footage of the incident.
Gloria Rightsell called the prosecutor's decision "hurtful," but "not surprising."
"I would've been ecstatic to hear that they were charging him with something, but I knew they weren’t charging him with nothing,” Rightsell said.
Rightsell added that her family does not believe state police's account of events that took place the night of the shooting. Adding that her husband would have never reached for his gun when approached by police.
"There was no bad intent whatsoever. My husband would have had no reason, nor would he pull a gun on a police officer,” she said.
While no criminal charges will be filed, Rightsell's family says they will pursue civil action.
“ It's everything we can do now, that’s the only thing we have left," Gloria Rightsell said.
An ISP spokesperson says trooper Organ has returned to "full regular duty" as a result of the prosecutor's decision.